Milken Institute Mena Summit 2019 in Abu Dhabi - Day 2 as it happened

Technology gurus, billionaire investors and environment chiefs address some of the region's biggest challenges

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Water security, the refugee crisis and rising unemployment among the youth are all topics under the microscope as the Milken Institute’s Mena Summit returns to the capital city.

Technology guru Sean Parker and Rwanda's president Paul Kagame are among the guest speakers.

Here you will find all the latest news from The National's reporters on the ground.

All times UTC+4


16:00 Blog closes

And that's a wrap from the Milken Institute Mena Summit in Abu Dhabi. Thank you for joining.


14:27 Saudi Arabia's Turki Al Faisal on stage

Prince Turki Al Faisal, the kingdom’s former ambassador to Washington and London, touched on a number of current affairs affecting Saudi Arabia and the region.

In his discussion with CNN's Becky Anderson, the chairman of King Faisal Foundation's Centre for Research and Islamic Studies said there is media hype for a poor US-Saudi relationship.

Prince Turki said he was hopeful for the Trump Administrations plans for Israel and Palestine, but expressed caution at an apparent regional disengagement.

US President Trump has previously expressed concerns about being the Middle East's 'policeman', and has started to implement a withdrawal of troops fighting ISIS in Syria.

Saudi Arabia's previous head of intelligence also said Mr Trump decision to withdraw from the Iran deal did not matter as it had failed to curtail the country's regional malevolence in the first place.

Yesterday, Prince Turki said Iran was a "paper tiger with steel claws" – the claws being proxy militias the country support across the Middle East.

Meanwhile, the Saudi prince said Qatar is still refusing to engage with Saudi Arabia, prolonging a dispute which has seen three GCC countries cut diplomatic ties with the nation.


13:32 Friends inspired Sean Parker's cancer research

Friends being impacted by cancer inspired Sean Parker's research into the illness, the philanthropist and tech guru said on Monday.

He also said he is taking cancer immunotherapy and making it mainstream, as he did with Facebook, of which he was an early part.

Mr Parker, who co-founded Napster – a controversial music sharing site – said that climate change not robots taking over the world is a greater concern to him.


12:30 Paul Kagame: forgiveness can be difficult price of peace

ABU DHABI , UNITED ARAB EMIRATES , February 13 – 2019 :- Paul Kagame, President, Republic of Rwanda speaking during the Milken Institute MENA Summit 2019 held at The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort in Abu Dhabi.  ( Pawan Singh / The National ) For News/Business/Instagram. Story by Charlie
Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda speaking during the Milken Institute MENA Summit. Pawan Singh / The National

Earlier, Rwandan President Paul Kagame reflected on how he rebuilt his nation from ashes of genocide and civil war.

"If you don’t find a way forward, bring people back together, allow healing to take place by forgiving and to a reasonable degree holding people accountable for they did, what is the alternative? A spiral of violence, killings, death. This is not something anyone thinks should be allowed to continue.”

The National's Dan Sanderson reports in full here


11:30 Sean Parker: forget Elon Musk's robot nightmares and worry about gene editing

Tech guru Sean Parker has said the world has become too preoccupied with Elon Musk’s doomsday predictions of robots taking over the world, and should instead be debating the ethics of gene editing.

The 39-year-old claimed Tesla co-founder’s apocalyptic visions of robots enslaving the planet had obscured important questions more worthy of public scrutiny.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. 12 FEBRUARY 2019. Milken Institute 2019 MENA Summit. World-class Healthcare: Investing in Biomedical Innovation panel discussion. Sean Parker, Chairman The Parker Foundation. (Photo: Antonie Robertson/The National) Journalist: John Dennehy. Section: National.
Sean Parker said technology could one day allow people to edit genes, meaning DNA could be treated almost as a programming language. Antonie Robertson / The National

“We are talking a lot about artificial intelligence,” Parker said at the Milken Institute’s MENA summit in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.

“Way too many people are listening to our friend Elon Musk with his comic-book dystopian vision of artificial super intelligence that takes over the Earth and enslaves humanity.

“I don’t think that’s where we should be concerned. The debate about gene editing is the one debate we are not having.”


11:09 Saudi real estate providing ample opportunity

The Saudi real estate sector provides ample opportunity for investments as the kingdom opens up its economy, with the lifting of the ban on cinemas and greater incentives offered to the private sector, speakers at the Milken summit said on Wednesday.

Alain Bejjani, chief executive of family conglomerate Majid Al Futtaim Holding, is bullish on Saudi Arabia where it is building an indoor ski slope similar to the one in the Mall of the Emirates.

“The government of Saudi Arabia and those in the region are much more aware of the importance of investing domestically and acting as an agent of change and growth not just by government-led investments but act as a regulator that frees up space for the private sector,” he said.

“The Saudi market has never reached its full potential. We are very excited and very lucky to be in a situation where there is focus on reviving the economy and growing the private sector.”

The conglomerate, which opened its first cinema in Saudi Arabia last year, will be opening a cinema every month in the kingdom, which lifted a ban on cinemas to help improve the lifestyle of citizens.

Neighbouring Bahrain is one country that expects to benefit from the economic resurgence of the kingdom, according to Amin Al Arrayed, chief executive of Edamah, the real estate arm of Bahrain’s sovereign wealth fund Mumtalakat.

“The economies of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are really intertwined and they have been for quite some time,” said Mr Al Arrayed.

“With the liberalisation in Saudi Arabia and the opening up of the economy bode well for us. We see ourselves as an extension of that economy.”


10:54 Behind the scenes at the Milken summit

From live broadcasts to coffee cups that aren't quite as fancy as the Pope's, John Dennehy is behind the scenes at the Milken Institute.


10:28 Kagame: African leaders have responsibility to attract investment

Paul Kagame, Rwanda's president said African leaders have a responsibility to attract investment in their countries to improve education and build infrastructure.

"Leaders have a task to allow things to happen as they should happen," he said at the Milken Institute MENA Summit on Wednesday.

He said countries must invest in providing their citizens with skills and knowledge to be a part of the modern economy.

"Even countries that have natural resources... It will come to nothing if they don't invest in people," he said.


10:17 Kagame reflects on time in African Union

Paul Kagame, Rwanda's president, reflected on his time as president of the African Union, which he handed over to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi last week.

Mr Kagame pushed through a series of reforms on connecting the African continent and increasing intra-Africa trade, although some failed to ratify in time.

Mr Kagame's ambitious vision for Africa included an African passport, which will give free movement between the continent's countries.

"If we hold Africa together, make borders kind of irrelevant in terms of trade, free movement, we can overcome some of the challenges we face," he said.


10:03 Paul Kagame: post-conflict societies must put aside 'quest for revenge'

Rwanda's president, Paul Kagame, who is credited with being instrumental in ending the Rwandan genocide, has discussed how to heal a country after conflict.

Speaking at the Milken Insitute on Wednesday, Mr Kagame said it is important to return displaced citizens and refugees to post-conflict countries, and that everyone, even those who have justifiable cause for revenge, must move on.

Mr Kagame said on Tuesday at the World Government Summit in Dubai that he has focussed on giving all Rwandans a stake in society and involving them in the workforce, a secret to the country's stability and success.

It is important to question the alternative to not bringing refugees and displaced people, he said, adding that people must put aside anger and "quest for revenge."

Mr Kagame spent 20 years in a refugee camp after fleeing conflict at the age of four. But as a leader, Mr Kagame has focussed on bringing Rwanda together.


09:49 Saudi Public Investment Fund to expand global presence and renewable investments

ABU DHABI , UNITED ARAB EMIRATES , February 13 – 2019 :- Yasir Othman Al-Rumayyan, Managing Director and Board Member at Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia speaking during the Milken Institute MENA Summit 2019 held at The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort in Abu Dhabi.  ( Pawan Singh / The National ) For News/Business/Instagram. Story by Dania
Yasir Rumayyan is now chairman of Saudi Aramco as well as mining company Ma'aden. Pawan Singh / The National

The Public Investment Fund, Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund, plans to expand its offices around the world and invest in renewables, its managing director told the Milken summit on Wednesday.

The PIF plans to open offices in London and the US and would like to boost its stake in the power and water company Acwa Power, Yasir Othman Al Rumayyan, Managing Director of the Public Investment Fund said.

"PIF is not going to be only in Riyadh. We are working on opening up in London and the US, initially in New York and San Francisco and any other cities we feel we should be closer to our business," Mr Al Rumayyan said.

The fund also could boost its stake in Saudi Arabi's Acwa Power to 40 per cent from 25 per cent as it seeks to develop more renewables projects in the kingdom as well as manufacture solar panels in the country.

"We will be the largest investor in renewable energy in solar panels and PVs (photo-voltaic). We have sun and sand. Our target is to have 200 GW to 400 GW of production and installation (of solar power)."

The fund is also keen to invest in waste management, food security and entertainment, he added.


Key speaker: Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda

It is estimated some 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed by Hutu forces in 100 days during Rwanda’s civil war in 1994.

Mr Kagame was then commander of the Rwandan Patriotic Front, which fought to end the conflict and stop the genocide. He became president of the country in 2000 and since then has slowly rebuilt Rwanda’s shattered economy on the back of its tea and coffee exports, while tourism is also being encouraged.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - February 12, 2019: H.E. Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda speaks during day 3 at the World Government Summit. Tuesday the 12th of February 2019 at Madinat, Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda speaks during day 3 at the World Government Summit. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Mr Kagame has been praised for his role in the recovery, but has also faced criticism from some quarters over his human rights record.

He is an avid user of social media and will appear at the summit on Wednesday to discuss the future for Africa.


08:45 Branson calls for greater wealth distribution

Sir Richard Branson has called for the greater distribution of global wealth through investment in high-quality entrepreneurs at a time when trust in capitalism is at an all-time low.

Speaking during the Milken Institute’s Mena Summit in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, the British businessman urged that more people benefit from free markets.

“We have to try and do everything we can to lift the vast majority of people up, when for the last few years the vast majority have not seen their living standards improve,” Sir Richard said.

Interest in socialism has risen in the past decade since the global financial crisis. This is more pronounced among young people, who are distrustful of capitalism as they bear the brunt of previous financial systems that have left them struggling to find job security and accumulate wealth.

Sir Richard said socialism was not the answer, but that governments and businesses should work hard to make free-market systems benefit more people.

Read the full story here


08:00 Welcome to our live updates

Good morning and thank you for joining us as we keep you up to date with all of the latest news from this year's Milken Institute Summit which is taking place at the St Regis Saadiyat Island.

Key discussions to look out for today include:

Morning Program: Regional Overview - 9.00 - 10.15am - featuring Yasir Othman Al-Rumayyan, Managing Director and Member of the Board, Public Investment Fund (PIF), Saudi Arabia, and Paul Kagame, President, Republic of Rwanda

Blockchain and Cryptocurrency: What to Expect Next - 10.30 -11.30am - featuring Eva Kaili, Member of the European Parliament, Mike Novogratz, CEO and Founder, Galaxy Digital, Charles Noyes, Partner, Paradigm

Emerging Trends Shaping Real Estate - 10.30 -11.30am - featuring Amin Alarrayed, CEO, Edamah, Alain Bejjani, CEO, Majid Al Futtaim Holding, Ron Burkle, Chairman, The Yucaipa Companies,

Jonathan Goldstein, CEO, Cain International, Michael S. Meldman, Chairman and CEO, Discovery Land Company

Africa: The Next Frontier for Fund Investors - 11.45 -12.45am - featuring Strive Masiyiwa, Founder and Chairman, Econet Wireless, Michael Milken, Chairman, Milken Institute, Patrice Motsepe, Founder and Chairman, African Rainbow Minerals

The Cost of Chronic Disease and the Future of Treatment - 11.45 -12.45am - featuring Hawaa Althahak Almansoori, Consultant Endocrinologist and Deputy Medical Director, Imperial College London Diabetes Centre Abu Dhabi, Sumit Jamuar, Chairman and CEO, Global Gene Corp, Nancy Knight, Director, Division of Global Health Protection, Center for Global Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Freda Lewis-Hall, Executive Vice President and Chief Patient Officer, Pfizer

Lunch Programme - 1.00 - 2.30pm - featuring Sean Parker, Chairman, The Parker Foundation and Prince Turki Al Faisal Al Saud, Chairman of the Board, King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies

MENA: Building the Next FinTech Hub - 2.45 - 3.45pm - featuring Marcelo Giugale, Director, Financial Advisory and Banking, The World Bank, Ben Lawsky, Head of Regulatory Affairs, NYDIG; Former New York Superintendent of Financial Services, Khalid Saad, CEO, Bahrain FinTech Bay, Richard Teng, CEO, Financial Services Regulatory Authority, Abu Dhabi Global Market

New Opportunities From a World in Transition - 2.45 - 3.45pm - featuring Daniel Farley, Executive Vice President and Chief Investment Officer, Investment Solutions Group, State Street Global Advisors, James McCormack, Global Head of Sovereign and Supranational Ratings, Fitch Ratings, Angela Rodell, CEO, Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation, Bart Turtelboom, CEO, APQ Global Limited

The Emergence of Venture Capital Mega-Funds - 4.00 - 5.00pm - featuring Ibrahim Ajami, Head of Venture Capital, Mubadala Capital, Ron Cao, Founder and Partner, Sky9 Capital, Fred Destin, General Partner, Stride.VC, Akshay Naheta, Partner, SoftBank Investment Advisers

The Role of Technology in Global Food Security - 4.00 - 5.00pm - Her Excellency Mariam Al Mehairi, Minister of State for Food Security, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Soud Ba'alawy, Founder and Executive Chairman, Enspire, Josh Tetrick, Founder and CEO, JUST, Michael Wystrach, CEO and Co-Founder, Freshly Inc.

Global Capital Markets - 5.15 - 6.30pm -  Hazem Ben-Gacem, Co-CEO, Investcorp, Jeremy Coller, Founder and Chief Investment Officer, Coller Capital, Tom Finke, Chairman and CEO, Barings, Joseph Naggar, Partner and Head of Structured Products, GoldenTree Asset Management